Meanwhile, Russia lifts its gasoline export ban: File Image/Pixabay
After several sessions of significant losses, crude trading on Friday saw a 4 percent jump in Brent and West Texas Intermediate prices, said to be due to investors with short positions taking profits rather than any resurgence of bullish sentiment for market conditions.
But it wasn't enough to avoid a fourth straight week of losses for the commodity, this time on the order to about 1 percent, and the bad news was compounded by the disclosure that key market gauges trading in a bearish contango structure for the first time in months.
Summing up sentiment on the bearish side was Andrew Pile, an analyst at CIBC Wood Gundy, who told media that oversupply and an expected slowdown in the U.S. economy would weaken demand and push prices lower: perhaps as low as $70 for WTI.
Oil prices are down slightly this year despite demand exceeding our optimistic expectations
Brent on Friday settled up $3.19, or about 4.1 percent, at $80.61 per barrel, while WTI rose $2.99, also 4.1 percent, at $75.89.
But as always in the roller coaster world of crude trading, there was no end of experts offering contrary outlooks to those supplied by the likes of CIBC; following Friday's brisk trading session, many analysts agreed that Thursday's massive selloff was overdone and that the continued Israel/Hamas war coupled with the U.S. vowing to enforce sanctions against Hamas supporter Iran could still cause prices to skyrocket in the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs noted that "Oil prices are down slightly this year despite demand exceeding our optimistic expectations," and "non-core OPEC supply has been much stronger than expected, partly offset by OPEC cuts."
Goldman Sachs analysts including Daan Stuyven went on to state that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries "will ensure that Brent oil prices end up in a $80-to-$100 range in 2024 by ensuring a moderate deficit and leveraging its pricing power."
In other oil news on Friday, Baker Hughes reported that the total number of active drilling rigs in the U.S. rose by 2 this week after falling by 2 last week; the total rig count rose to 618 for the week, 457 fewer than the count at the beginning of 2019 prior to the pandemic.
The data also revealed that the number of oil rigs rose by 6 to 500, the highest one-week increase in 9 months.
Also on Friday, Russia's energy ministry said it had lifted its gasoline export implemented in mid-September, citing a supply surplus of some 2 million metric tons; however, it warned that it could reimpose export bans if that surplus vanishes.